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Marketing Innovators Luncheon Seminar

Innovation 3.0: Delivering Value, Chicago-Style

Like everyone else, business-to-business companies have had to tighten their belts in the last few years. But if your company has been holding out on investing in innovation during the Great Recession, you’ve likely been missing out on a great opportunity.

Learn why when innovation thought leader Tom Kuczmarski hosts BMA’s first Marketing Innovators Luncheon Seminar of the new year on Thursday, January 13, at The Standard Club. The co-founder of the Chicago Innovation Awards and four of the awards program’s 2010 winners—all b-to-b companies—will engage in a panel discussion and show how developing solutions to customer needs enabled them to deliver value to their clients and drive growth, even in a major recession.

Representing the panel of 2010 Chicago Innovation Award winners will be:

Bob Gillespie, CEO of InContext Solutions, whose winning innovation, 3D Virtual Store Research, allows the company’s retailer clients to conduct eerily realistic in-store marketing tests online.  Watch this video to learn more about InContext Solutions.

Brian Krause, vice president of marketing and communications of Molex, which won a CIA for developing the Circular MT Expanded Beam Interconnect Solution.  The product addresses the need for high reliability and easy to use connectors in the medical, data and telecommunications industries.  Watch this video to learn more about Molex and the Circular MT Expanded Beam Interconnect

Pete Kadens, president of SoCore Energy, whose winning innovation is the SunLock solar energy solution, which enables businesses in flat-roofed commercial buildings to rent solar panels at an affordable price.  Watch this video to learn more about SoCoreEnergy.

John Reale, senior vice president of marketing and customer experience management at USG Corporation, which won an Innovation Award for its SHEETROCK brand UltraLight Panel, a gypsum wallboard for contractors that is up to 30 percent lighter, yet as strong as a conventional board.  Watch this video to learn more about USG and SHEETROCK.

Kuczmarski, who will serve as the panel’s moderator, is one of the world’s pre-eminent authorities on the value of innovation. In addition to being the co-founder of the Chicago Innovation Awards, he is the founder, senior partner and president of Kuczmarski & Associates, a management consulting firm specializing in accelerating growth through innovation. During his career, Kuczmarski has helped clients ranging from small businesses to Fortune 100 corporations learn to unlock the value of innovation. He is the author of five books on the subject, and for the past 30 years he has taught product and service innovation courses at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

In an interview, Kuczmarski was asked why this panel discussion would be of interest to him if he were a senior business marketing executive.

“The reason why I would want to be at this presentation is because I will be able to see and hear in live time innovation at its b-to-b best, because we will be bringing together USG, Molex, SoCore and InContext Solutions,” Kuczmarski said. “What we will explore with them are two major themes. The first is, what is the customer need that they created an innovation for, and then the second is, how have they articulated the value and the benefits of that new innovation to their customers.”

The Chicago Innovation Awards, which enter their 10th year in 2011, are the brainchild of Kuczmarski and Dan Miller, the former business editor of the Chicago Sun-Times and former executive vice president of the Heartland Institute.

"Our idea was rooted in the strong notion that companies do not acknowledge adequately innovation efforts and successes,” Kuczmarski recalled. “Moreover, I became tired of hearing only about technology innovation on the West Coast and financial services innovation on the East Coast. ‘Wait a minute,’ I’d say, ‘Chicago has a bunch of innovation going on.’”

And he and Miller set out to prove it. They founded the Chicago Innovation Awards in 2002. That first year they received about 50 nominations. “It’s grown bigger every year,” Kuczmarski said. “We had 332 nominations last year and 850 guests at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre for the annual sold-out ceremony.”

The program has come a long way indeed. At the 2010 awards ceremony on November 1, the keynote speaker was J.B. Pritzker, managing partner and co-founder of The Pritzker Group and founder of New World Ventures. Rocky Wirtz, president of Wirtz Corporation and owner and chairman of the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks, accepted the Visionary Award for his leadership in the greatest sports-business turnaround in history. And Blue Man Group received the Spirit of Innovation Award and gave special performances throughout the evening.

What’s more, the Chicago Innovation Awards no longer honors only the top 10 nominees. Each year the organization hosts a reception for all of the nominees (the 2010 event was at the House of Blues), where they can network and make contacts.

“But networking alone isn’t enough,” Kuczmarski said. “Innovation isn’t a ‘eureka’ moment. It is not invention. It is a process that can be taught and learned. In our definition, innovation needs proof of impact.” That’s why, in addition to the reception, the top 75 nominees receive a $2,500 scholarship to attend the Kellogg School of Management’s one-day executive education course called The Practical Innovator.

The Chicago Innovation Awards has been able to afford the embellishments it has added with the help of sponsors, which include The Wrigley Company, Allstate Insurance, Google, the law firm Vedder Price and Comcast Business Class.



About Tom Kuczmarski

Thomas D. Kuczmarski, founder, senior partner and president of Kuczmarski & Associates, is a nationally recognized expert in the innovation of new products and services. Over the course of his career he has helped hundreds of clients, ranging from small businesses to Fortune 100 corporations, learn to systematically unlock the value of innovation. The author of five books and many articles, Kuczmarski has also taught product and service innovation at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management for 30 years. His executive education courses at the Kellogg School attract students from around the world.
Kuczmarski is co-founder of the Chicago Innovation Awards, which recognize each year the most innovative new products and services developed in the upper Midwest. The awards, which are endorsed by every major business association in the Chicago region, showcase the creative spirit of America’s heartland.
He is the author of five books. Apples Are Square: Thinking Differently about Leadership (Kaplan), co-authored with Dr. Susan Smith Kuczmarski and published in 2007, explores the qualities of the ideal leader and how to build those qualities into one’s own career. Innovating the Corporation (NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group) reveals the seven steps for achieving growth through innovation. Managing New Products (Book Ends Publishing), now in its third edition, is endorsed by the American Marketing Association and is widely regarded as one of the most comprehensive treatises on the development of new products. Values-Based Leadership: Rebuilding Employee Commitment, Productivity and Performance (Prentice-Hall) was also co-authored with Dr. Susan Smith Kuczmarski. His book Innovation was co-published by NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group and the American Marketing Association.
Kuczmarski is extensively published and cited in radio, television and national periodicals, including The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Newsweek, NBC’s “Today” show, Planning Review, Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Marketing News, Advertising Age, Crain’s Chicago Business, Business Marketing, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Tribune and many more. He is also a regular columnist for Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s online Innovation Channel

About Bob Gillespie

Bob Gillespie, chief executive officer of InContext Solutions, has 20 years’ experience in consulting, technology, leadership and operations under his belt. As one of the brainparents of InContext, Gillespie contends that the ability to build great teams is the most important factor of success. By picking the right people and providing solid leadership, he maintains, companies can create industry-changing products and platforms.
Before InContext, his most recent executive role was as vice president and director of operations at a software company that provided services to the mortgage industry. Gillespie ran the day-to-day operations of the company and oversaw growth in revenue from $2 million to $10 million annually, and took the bottom line from a loss of $750,000 to more than a $2 million profit in three years.
In his former life, Gillespie was a technologist and a stand-up comedian. He holds a B.A. in computer science and English from Knox College. 

About Brian Krause

Brian has been working in the Interconnect World for over 30 years, with the last 29 years for Molex Incorporated in various Marketing and Sales positions. In his current position as Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Molex, Brian is responsible for Global Marketing and Communications, which includes the Molex Brand, Molex's Web site, Advertising, Public Relations, as well as the Commercialization and Promotion of Molex's products globally. 
Brian's Global MARCOM organization promotes Molex to key audiences in major industries through trade shows and customer seminars, advertising, electronic promotions, search words, e-newsletters, product campaigns, public relations, and multimedia productions. The Global Product Commercialization organization is responsible for working with product managers to develop promotion plans and using cost-effective commercialization tactics to meet the marketing needs for each of Molex's sales channels. These tactics include product release packages, web publishing, the "Team Molex" audio conference calls, product sample kits and content for newsletters and promotions.

Our Mission is to provide the tools our "Customers" need, to be successful... 

About Pete Kadens

Pete Kadens, president of SoCore Energy, is an accomplished speaker and leader on green initiatives and is known nationwide for his innovative approach to the proliferation of renewable generation. Prior to SoCore, Pete founded and was the CEO of Acquirent, an outsourced sales company that was ranked the number-one outsourced sales company in the United States in 2006 by The Black Book of Outsourcing.
In his four years as the founder and CEO of Acquirent, Kadens was responsible for overseeing all aspects of the business, including recruitment, process engineering and business development, all while growing the company to more than 45 full-time employees. He was also in charge of the development of the client roster that included Staples Office Supplies, Constellation Energy, Allscripts Healthcare Solutions, Midas International and Sears Holdings.
Kadens was elected president of the National Association of Sales Outsourcers in 2007 and served in that capacity until leaving the industry in early 2008.
Prior to founding Acquirent, Kadens spent four years at the investment bank of UBS. He is the vice chairman of the board of directors of Streetwise, one of the largest homeless aid organizations in the Midwest, and a director at the Holocaust Memorial Foundation of Illinois.
He holds a B.A from Bucknell University and was awarded the Bucknell University Distinguished Citizenship Alumni Award in 2010. 

About John Reale

John M. Reale is senior vice president of marketing and customer experience at USG Corporation. He is responsible for USG’s marketing, branding, new product development and customer service. He also develops strategic marketing and business plans that align corporate strategy with business objectives. 
Reale sets the company’s strategic brand direction and provides input and leadership on major initiatives and innovation platforms. He is responsible for leveraging customer insights to drive new product development as well as marketing campaigns that drive results. His team includes individuals responsible for ensuring superior customer service, a pipeline of new and innovative products, field and channel alignment, as well as integrated marketing efforts. 
After graduating from St. Bonaventure University in western New York state with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, Reale joined USG as a cost accountant. Throughout his 26-year career with the corporation, he has held management positions in a variety of areas, including accounting, finance, sales, customer service, technology and marketing. Prior to his current assignment, he held the position of chief information officer for three years.
Reale has been in his current position since 2008 and recently led the organization through the development and launch of a breakthrough wallboard product, Sheetrock Brand® UltraLight Panels. Under his leadership, a cross-functional team from manufacturing, research, tech services, product management and marketing developed and launched a drywall panel that is up to 30% lighter than competitive products. This breakthrough technology is what led USG Corporation to be one of this year’s recipients of the Chicago Innovation Awards. This marked the third time in five years that USG has received this honor. 
Reale is originally from Binghamton, N.Y., and currently resides in St. Charles, Ill., with his wife, Lynn, and three daughters. 





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